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From Jeans to Suits--With Money to Spare

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Are you wondering how to buy your interview suit and build a professional wardrobe without maxing out your credit card? Whether you've already started to transition your attire for student teaching or you're just beginning to think about it, we have a few tips for creating a collection of clothes that will give you confidence and convey that sense of professionalism that will help you land a job — without breaking the bank.

1. Hit the consignment and resale stores. Even Goodwill is an amazing resource. Choose basics that can be worn together instead of a few trendy pieces. According to RealSimple.com, April and May are the best months to shop at consignment stores; inventory is up since people are cleaning out their closets. Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog suggests you skip the sweaters and t-shirts (which are usually pretty grubby by the time they end up in the to-donate pile) and head straight for dresses and pants. The nicer, less-forgiving items are usually the first to head out the door when someone's weight changes.

2. Get cash for your clothes.
Most people wear 80% of their clothes 20% of the time. Take your trendy, barely worn clothes to the resale shop. You can either get store credit or cash to put toward your new professional wardrobe. Or if you have clothes that you love but never wear because they don't fit quite right, take them to the tailor and get them altered for a few dollars. A quick fix of a hem or waistline can do wonders.

3. Shop at the outlets. They offer merchandise and deals that you won't find at their mall counterparts.

4. Read the labels.
Don't buy clothes that will need constant dry cleaning — it's just another expense. If you simply must have that cashmere sweater vest, do some research on at-home cleaning options. Often, retailers stick "Dry Clean Only" tags on articles because of laziness and risk management, but if you know the fiber content and can do a Google search on the terms "wash," "cashmere," and "at home," you can usually find a way to do it yourself and save a fortune. Delicate sweaters can be soaked in cold water and soap (Eucalan is one brand) that's formulated just for woolens.

5. Watch for sales and coupons. Signing up for a store's email promotions can alert you to sales, and sometimes they'll send you coupons just for joining. Why pay full price on Tuesday if that fabulous suit is going to be 40% off on Wednesday? And on that note, never go shopping without doing a quick web search for coupons (don't miss www.savings.com) to make sure you're saving all you can.

While dressing the part is a critical element of making a good impression, remember that the most important thing is to be yourself. Be sure you've fully prepared for the interview questions and let the attire you wear give you the courage to handle the interview with confidence.


Carolyn Dew
Manager, Pi Lambda Theta Career Resources Center

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